Alex Rodriguez received a loud ovation and a rare shout-out from the Bleacher Creatures at Yankee Stadium before walking and singling in the first plate appearances of his return to the major leagues after a season-long drug suspension.
Rodriguez was New York's designated hitter and batted seventh against Toronto on Monday, his first time that low in the order at the start of a regular-season game since May 7, 1996. He went 1 for 2 in the Yankees' 6-1 loss.
New York trailed 5-0 when he came to the plate leading off the third inning. Rodriguez worked the count full against Drew Hutchison, who was 3 when A-Rod made his big league debut in 1994. On the eighth pitch of the plate appearance, Rodriguez took a 91 mph fastball and became New York's first baserunner.
He singled to right-center on another full-count fastball leading off the fifth and flied out in the seventh against reliever Aaron Loup.
Rodriguez was greeted with mostly cheers and some boos when introduced before the game as players lined up on the field.
The Bleacher Creatures loudly chanted "A-Rod!" several times from their right-field seats during their first-inning roll call, even though they don't normally include the DH.
"It's not typical," Creatures leader "Bald Vinny" Milano wrote in an email. "Just figured he could use a bit of support. It's always good to know someone is in your corner."
Watching from the dugout, Rodriguez waved his cap twice and nodded his head.
The 39-year-old Rodriguez had not come to the plate since he struck out against Tampa Bay's David Price on Sept. 25, 2013. He missed 2014 while serving a suspension for violations of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract. He sued Major League Baseball, the players' union and the Yankees' team physician, heightening acrimony between himself and the team, then dropped the litigation and served the penalty.
Rodriguez hit .286 in spring training with three home runs. He has 654 career homers.